Study Group

Arnold Foundation Teacher Pensions and Mobility

In the wake of the economic recession, public pension plans have emerged as an increasingly salient and contested public policy issue. The debate over public pensions is driven in large part by the fact that many public retirement systems are significantly under-funded.

For example, numerous estimates peg the national shortfall in public pension assets relative to liabilities at several trillion dollars.



1) Figure 1 displays state pension funding levels for the 2010 fiscal year, when 34 states had less than 80 percent of their pension liabilities funded.



2) Given the pervasiveness of funding shortfalls, there have been proposals to shift public-sector pensions from defined benefit (DB) plans towards defined contribution (DC) plans which are, by definition, fully-funded.



3,4) However, this approach is not without controversy, as it shifts the future risk associated with investment returns earned on pension assets away from taxpayers and towards employees and raises questions about employee preferences for different types of pension plans and how reform might affect retirement security and workforce composition.

In addition, moving towards a DC-type pension system does nothing, by itself, to address existing shortfalls.

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Goldhaber, D., Grout, C., Holden, K. L., & Brown, N. (2015). Crossing the border? Exploring the cross-state mobility of the teacher workforce. Educational Researcher, 44(8), 421-431.
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Goldhaber, D., Grout, C., & Holden, K. L. (2017). Pension structure and employee turnover: Evidence from a large public pension system. ILR Review, 70(4), 976-1007.

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OUR PUBLICATIONS

TEACHER RECRUITMENT & SELECTION

A long-standing researcher-practitioner partnership between CEDR and Spokane Public Schools (SPS) has connected data collected during the teacher hiring process in SPS to later teacher outcomes in SPS and other district in Washington

SCHOOL RESOURCES &
EQUITY

CEDR projects have investigated the connections between school resources (e.g., textbook adoption) and students' educational trajectories and outcomes.

POSTSECONDARY
EDUCATION

CEDR projects have explored the impact of programs like Washington's College Bound Scholarship program and students' postsecondary outcomes.

TEACHER PREPARATION & LICENSURE

CEDR projects including the Teacher Education Learning Collaborative (TELC; www.telc.us), the Improving Student Teaching Initiative (ISTI), and others have investigated the connections between specific teacher preparation experiences and measures collected during teacher licensure and later outcomes for teacher candidates.

SPECIAL EDUCATION &
CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION

CEDR has participated in several projects related to the participation of students with disabilities in career and technical education (CTE) and the extent to which this participation predicts later outcomes

TEACHER LABOR
MARKETS 

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN EDUCATION SYSTEMS & LABOR MARKET OUTCOMES

CEDR projects have investigated the connections between school resources (e.g., textbook adoption) and students' educational trajectories and outcomes.

CEDR has studied processes and outcomes in the teacher labor market like teacher collective bargaining agreements, teacher quality gaps, and teacher layoffs and their connections to student achievement

TEACHER QUALIFICATIONS & EFFECTIVENESS

CEDR projects have explored the impact of programs like Washington's College Bound Scholarship program and students' postsecondary outcomes.

TEACHER
PENSIONS

CEDR researchers have studied the teacher pension system in Washington and other states and investigated the connections between pensions systems and teachers' career paths and effectiveness.